The New Email Marketing Rules for Businesses

What is the best tool for a small business to use for marketing and generating new business leads? You probably aren’t going to like my answer.email marketing, computer, blogging, bloggers, small business marketing, business marketing

Believe it or not, it’s email.

I know what you’re thinking right now: email is soooooo 2003.

Email is boring. Email is annoying. Why use email when there are so many new shiny toys for marketing and generating new business, like Facebook and Twitter and texting and something that was invented 15 minutes ago and I haven’t even heard of yet.

But whether you like it or not, there’s a reason email is hot and remains hot.

It’s cheap. It’s effective. It’s easy to use and to scale upwards as your business grows and you as a business owner get busier.

It’s also not going away anytime soon.

How many people do you know who have a Twitter account and use it daily?

How many people do you know who have an email account and use it daily?

Perhaps a better question is how many people do you know who don’t have an email account? (Besides your grandmother; she doesn’t count.)

Email was left for dead, but now it’s back. Email is tanned, rested, and ready.

I know, it’s kind of like saying “Black is the new black” but it’s true.

The problem, however, is you can’t just dive in head first and starting shooting out spam emails to everyone you know.

Because email is not the newest kid on the block, you have to follow what I call:

The New Email Marketing Rules:

1. Educate Yourself First about Email Marketing Strategies and Techniques

The first rule is you can’t rush out and start blasting emails without educating yourself about good email marketing techniques and etiquette. You should take some time to read more thorough advice on how to use email effectively.

Many email marketing services have great online videos you can watch that give case studies of ways businesses use email effectively. Case in point:

It’s really important that you take the time to do this, because the email marketing companies take this very seriously. If they get a whiff that you may be a spammer, they will block you out and you won’t be able to use their services.

More Resources:

 

2. You need to Generate a Mailing List

You will need to start creating a list of people to email. There are a number of ways of doing this, but one of the most common is to offer a free giveaway on your website or blog that entices people to give up their email address.

Your free giveaway needs to be something of good value and enticing to your ideal customer. It shouldn’t be too basic and it shouldn’t be too advanced.

You should set up a sequence of autoresponder emails that send out emails over a period of weeks so that people on your list get accustomed to receiving emails from you, and they won’t forget who you are when they see your name in their inbox.

Over time, traffic to your website or blog will convert into email addresses that are added to your list automatically, whether you are sleeping or on vacation or watching a movie. It’s marketing on cruise control.

Why is this of value? These are “warm leads.” They are people who have arrived at your website or blog, gotten to know you a little bit by poking around and reading your articles, and decided they have enough interest to continue receiving information from you.

Any sales person can tell you that is much easier to convert these warm leads than it is any other type of potential lead.

As you start out with email marketing, you can start off with a list of people that you already know, but be careful to prune out people who will be offended or you definitely know won’t be interested.

3. You Will Not Please Everyone

To be comfortable with email marketing, you need to be comfortable with the fact that you are not going to please everyone on your list. You will get people unsubscribing, and you may even get a nasty email from time to time.

However, you will find that the negative responses will be vastly outweighed by the positive responses, IF you try to over-deliver value and don’t sound overly “salesy.”

4. Value is the Foot in the Door

Remember what people used to do when they saw a door-to-door salesman at their front door (back when there were door-to-door salesmen)?

Everyone had a way of turning these people away. It was very difficult for these salesmen to get a “foot in the door” because everyone knew when they opened the door that it was a sales call.

The thing was, the deck was stacked against these salesmen because there were numerous “tells” which cued people off that it was a sales call:

  • It was a stranger at the door, often in the evening
  • There was a worn briefcase or clipboard
  • The call was unexpected
  • There was the cheap suit or uniform

To be effective with email marketing, you can’t allow people to see you as a door-to-door salesman. You can’t have any “tells.”

Instead, you need to be a trusted resource, like a neighbor or a friend dropping off information or a free book.  Something you would be interested in, even if it was unexpected.

Whenever you email your list, it should be to share value in your area of expertise.

If you are a business coach, you would email an article providing advice to your ideal customers. If you are a restaurant, you may provide recipes or cooking videos, along with a coupon for 15 percent off.

If you are a mortgage broker, you may email the latest mortgage rates.

Just be sure you are providing value so you build trust.

5. Eighty Percent of Your Success is Crafting a Good Subject Line

Woody Allen famously said that eighty percent of success is just showing up.

If you are going to be effective in generating new business through email, then eighty percent of your success is going to be your subject line. A good subject line will mean the difference between a high open rate and a small open rate.

If you have a large distribution list, it can mean the difference between hundreds or thousands of people opening your email and reading what you have to say.

(By the way, the email marketing service you use will allow you to see the open rates so you can figure out what subject lines worked well for you.)

Just keep in mind that open rates across the industry are extremely low — in the low teens.

Additional Resources:

 

6. Start Slowly and Build Confidence and Experience

If you are just getting started and haven’t done email marketing before, then start off slowly.

Here is a simple and really inexpensive way to get your feet wet. Prepare a .CSV file (which you can do through Excel or Google Docs for free) of all of your friends/neighbors/old college roommates. Enter just their first name, last name and email address in three separate columns.

Sign up for a free or inexpensive email marketing service (like Mailchimp.com or VerticalResponse.com) and upload the .CSV file using their upload feature.

Send out a simple email about a topic that no reasonable person can get upset with you for emailing them about, like wishing everyone a happy holiday (before a holiday weekend), or announcing a new address or phone number.

Another good excuse for emailing people is if you have a guest article that appears in the newspaper or on a blog. You can send an email as an “FYI” to tell people about your article. Try to write about a topic in your area of expertise related to your business. This will have the subtle effect of reminding your friends about your line of work and services.

I will bet you are pleasantly surprised with the results. You may get into some email exchanges with people who respond to your email and who you haven’t spoken to in awhile, but who you probably wouldn’t call or email directly out of the blue.

Don’t Give Up

My final piece of advice is that it takes time to build expertise in this area, and it takes time to build a list. A list of thousands of email addresses does not happen overnight. But if you stick with it, avoid spamming people, and always try to over-deliver value, you may find great results.

 

Related Reading:

Photo credit:Microsoft Office Online

 

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